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Events will include a historical exhibit and lectures by President Daniel Weiss and Holocaust historian Erhard Roy Wiehn

The Max Kade Center for German Studies is planning numerous activities Oct. 23-25 meant to reflect upon German Jewish life and remember the Holocaust.

Events include two lectures by Holocaust scholar Erhard Roy Wiehn, one at noon, Oct. 23, in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library entitled “Remembering the Past for the Future,” and the Max Kade Lecture “Kiev Babi Yar: A Forgotten Massacre 65 Years Later” at 8 p.m. Oct. 24, in room 104 of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. A brown bag lecture by President Daniel Weiss entitled “A Historical Injustice: The Case of Masha Bruskina,” will be held noon, Oct. 25, in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library.

There will also be a historical exhibit on display in the Max Kade Room, 429 Pardee Hall, chronicling the life of the late Ludwig Muhlfelder, Holocaust survivor, author of an autobiography Because I Survived, and the father of Leslie Muhlfelder ’81, general counsel and vice president of human resources. The exhibit portrays Ludwig Muhlfelder’s life under the Nazi regime, his return to Europe as a member of the United States armed forces, and his productive life thereafter as a distinguished aeronautical engineer.

The exhibition, Lu Muhlfelder: Passport to Life, will open Oct. 23 with a reception from 5-7 p.m. Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, professor and head of foreign languages and literatures and director of the Max Kade Center, will introduce the exhibit followed by remarks from Weiss and exhibit curator Diane Shaw, College archivist. The exhibit will run until the end of the semester.

Some of the items on display will be pictures of Muhlfelder’s synagogue in Suhl, Germany, before, during, and after it was destroyed by the Nazis; his passport stamped with a Nazi swastika, diary entries during his passage to America; photographs from his United States military service in Europe, and a daily log kept during his time at the Battle of the Bulge. Also on display will be a photograph of Muhlfelder’s father entitled “Roll Call at Buchenwald 1938,” that Muhlfelder discovered at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. His father can be clearly seen standing in line with other prisoners.

Reflecting on the exhibit of her father’s life, Leslie Muhlfelder says, “The next generation, my generation, now has the responsibility of remembering in the hope that subsequent generations can learn that this happened, and that one must stand up and be heard if such atrocities are to be prevented. I am grateful to have my father’s exhibit serve as a vehicle for that experience.”

Wiehn serves as Lafayette’s 2006-07 Distinguished Max Kade Professor. His residency will include a number of classroom visits throughout his stay to speak with students. His first lecture, a brown bag discussion entitled “Remembering the Past for the Future,” will focus on the many memoirs he has helped people write and publish.

He will also deliver the Max Kade Lecture, “Kiev Babi Yar: A Forgotten Massacre 65 Years Later.” Here he will discuss the murder of 33,771 Jewish men, women and children by Nazi German soldiers in a ravine located on the edge of Kiev called “Babi Yar” in September 1941. Wiehn says the massacre was not the beginning of German crimes in the Third Reich, but certainly the beginning of the real Holocaust, or the Jewish Shoah.

“Unfortunately the Shoah of Kiev Babi Yar is more or less a forgotten crime,” says Wiehn. “But more than half a century later, we should remember it and take it not only as a terrible warning, but as a chance of cooperation, and fighting together against new and old anti-Semitism, for tolerance and mutual respect, and for a better and a more human world.”

Weiss’ lecture, “A Historical Injustice: The Case of Masha Bruskina,” will explore his research to uncover the truth about Masha Bruskina, a seventeen-year-old Jewish girl, who was one of the first Russians to be publicly executed by the Germans during World War II.

He will present historical photographs showing Bruskina and two men being led to the gallows in the occupied city of Minsk Oct. 26, 1941. For years, Bruskina’s identity had been listed as unknown, and even after evidence pointed to her identity, there was reluctance to recognize her. Weiss will examine the historical significance of the execution and the implications of Bruskina’s hidden identity.

Wiehn studied sociology, philosophy and history in Munich and T�bingen, Germany and in the United States. From 1971-72 he served as a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences and from 1974 to 2002, he was a professor in the department of history and sociology at the University of Konstanz in Germany. Since 1992, he has been a member of the International Academy Advisory Board for Sociological Papers at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel and he also spent 18 years as president of the German-Israel Society in the Lake Constance region.

He has authored or edited nearly two hundred books on Jewish and Holocaust history and has received a number of awards including the President’s Award of the University of Tel Aviv and the Federal Service Cross of the Republic of Germany.

Ludwig Muhlfelder was born in 1924 in Suhl, Germany (former East Germany), and experienced first-hand the terror imposed by the Nazi regime. Suhl’s synagogue was burnt down in November 1938 and Muhlfelder’s father was arrested that same night and imprisoned in Buchenwald. Fortunately, after three weeks, his father was released and allowed to emigrate to the United States. He was required to leave his family in Germany. After the war in Europe had begun, the remaining members of the Muhlfelder family were also allowed to emigrate to America. Muhlfelder was 15 when his boat sailed past the Statue of Liberty. Three years later, he volunteered as a non-citizen for service with the U.S. Army and took part in the last heavy battles of World War II in Western Europe during 1944.

After the war, Muhlfelder earned a masters degree in electrical engineering and spent three decades working in development of satellite control and stabilization, during which time he received 16 U.S. patents and was elected to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

In 1995, Muhlfelder published Because I Survived: An Autobiography. He had previously released the German version Because I was Spared, which was published with Wiehn’s help. Muhlfelder’s wife had met Wiehn in 1986 during a return to her own hometown in Germany, and the Wiehn and Muhlfelder families have remained friends ever since. Wiehn encouraged Muhlfelder to write his autobiography and also accompanied the family on an emotional return to Suhl in 1997.

During the 1990’s Ludwig spoke on several occasions at Lafayette to lecture about his WWII experiences. A video of Muhlfelder’s speech at Lafayette in 1997 will be available for viewing at the exhibit in the Max Kade Room. He died in January 2004. In his memory, Lafayette’s former Provost June Schlueter and her husband Paul Schlueter donated a rare Passover Haggadah to Skillman Library’s rare book collection. A special program, including lectures by Robert Weiner, Jones Professor of History, and Robert Cohn, Berman Professor of Jewish Studies, was held April 19, 2005, to present the Haggadah to the Lafayette community.

“My father led a purposeful life,” says Leslie Muhlfelder. “He was forever grateful to have been spared, and was dedicated to remembering those who were not. He was an extraordinarily positive human being who believed in a better future if we can learn from the lessons of the past.”

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